Source Pravda.Ru

Buddhists protest outside Russian Foreign Ministry

About 50 participants in an unsanctioned rally have been detained by police after they attempted to break into the Russian Foreign Ministry.

About 100 people gathered outside the ministry at Smolenskaya Ploshchad on Thursday to protest against the Foreign Ministry's decision not to grant the Dalai Lama a visa.

The head of the public organisation, "The Society of Friends of Tibet," Antonina Kokuyeva, who had arrived in Moscow from Kalmykiya especially for the demonstration, said that Buddhists had been waiting for their spiritual leader to come to them for ten years.

In spite of the fact that the rally was unsanctioned, law enforcers dealt with the events calmly. However, when after an a hour and a half the Buddhist attempted to force their way into the ministry building, the police began to detain the participants in the demonstration and take them away to the nearest station.

Deputy head of the Central Police District Sergei Maslov said that those detained would be charged with offences under the administrative code. According to him, they will be released later today.

The Dalai Lama had planned to come to Russia in September to visit Buryatiya, Tuva and Kalmykiya.

However, the Russian Foreign Ministry refused to issue a visa in connection with the "political nature of the visit." The ministry's deputy official spokesman Boris Malakhov told journalists that while the issue was being considered the visit's political dimension had clearly overshadowed the religious aspects, which is what the organisers had claimed the visit was all about. Malakhov stressed that the inclusion in the official delegation of "representatives of the so-called government of Tibet in exile, actors and other figures" testified to this.

"When considering this issue, naturally, the position of China had to be taken into account, the leadership of which highly negatively view the political activity of the Dalai Lama," the diplomat said in conclusion.

The last time the XIVth Dalai Lama (Tenzin Gyasto) made an unofficial visit to Russia in 1992. He held a service in the Russian Centre of Buddhism in Buryatiya and met representatives of the republic's Buddhist community.

Since 1960, the Dalai Lama has lived in exile in India. China does not officially recognise the Dalai Lama and consequently is against any other countries allowing him to conduct activity that is aimed, in its opinion, at breaking up China. Beijing believes that the Buddhist leader advocates independence for Tibet under a smokescreen of religious.

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